Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks album review: ‘Wig Out at Jagbags’


Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks. (Leah Nash)
February 27
STEPHEN MALKMUS AND THE JICKS
“Wig Out at Jagbags”

Kindred spirits: Can, ELO, Jimi Hendrix

Show: With Endless Boogie on Friday at the Black Cat. Doors open at 9 p.m.
202-667-4490. www.blackcatdc.com.
Show is sold out.

As a lyricist, Stephen Malkmus is known for absurdities and nonsequiturs, but occasionally a telling remark slips off his tongue. “We grew up listening to the music from the best decade ever / Talkin’ ’bout the ADDs,” he sings in “Lariat,” one of the livelier and pithier songs on “Wig Out at Jagbags,” his sixth album with the Jicks.

Yes, Malkmus has an attention-
deficit issue, but it has served him well since his days in Pavement, the 1990s slacker-rock exemplar. The Oregon-based singer-guitarist can shift abruptly between country, dub and classic rock, often within the same song. “Chartjunk” apes Billy Joel, a cool-jazz trumpet nuzzles “J Smoov,” “Planetary Motion” twists the guitar riff from Cream’s “I Feel Free” and “Surreal Teenagers” mashes 1967 Incredible String Band into 1970 David Bowie. Malkmus, who lived in Berlin for a time, also has added German trance-rock to his grab bag.

Malkmus has become a deft guitarist, and the Jicks — bassist Joanna Bolme, keyboardist Mike Clark and drummer Jake Morris — frame his playing carefully. Indeed, the quartet can sometimes be too meticulous. Where Pavement jumbled its borrowings into charismatic chaos, Malkmus and his current cohorts emphasize every seam in their welded-together style. But if that makes “Jagbags” a little fussy, the music clicks whenever the group wigs out.

Mark Jenkins

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